Monday, April 7, 2014
Exodus: Chapter 3
to be heard
to be known
What is in a name?
the future is here
burning, but not consumed
[for full chapter, click here
This chapter continues with the leitwords of seeing and being seen, and the thematic emphasis on naming.
Moses is first saved by being seen by his mother and Pharaoh's daughter. His first act as an adult is to go out "and see" his brothers' suffering. Here, at this definitive moment, an angel "shows himself" (va-yera) to Moses, and Moses "turns aside to see" (ve-ereh). When God "sees" that "he has turned aside to see (lirot)", he calls to Moses by name. The encounter by the burning bush is a mutual, intimate gaze, with all the danger that implies: "and Moses covered his face, for he was afraid to gaze." Moses can be defined as the one who turns aside to look, by that extra awareness and care.
As in the introductory paragraph, gaze turns to listening,and listening turns to knowledge, an intertwined related trio: "And God saw...and God knew" "and God heard...and God saw...and God knew" "I have seen...and have heard their screams...for I know..."
In the intimate mutual gaze, the quest for freedom turns into a need to give the redeeming God (who until now speaks as the impersonal power, elokim) a name. : "I will be with you" turns into "I will be what I will be," which becomes " I will be" and finally turns into the personal Name of God, placed within the context of history: "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." This local relationship turns into "this is my name forever, and my memory for every generation." God is the God if covenant, defined by the relationship to humanity.]